Not keen on the whole Valentine's Day fandango, but don't want to completely shun the only day dedicated to love? Take your beloved for a meal at one these easygoing eateries in London and beyond this February 14th.
With its handwritten blackboards, low-hanging lights and soft, grey decor, this wine bar-come restaurant ticks all the boxes for a relaxed-yet-romantic meal out. There's a handful of superbly cooked French-led dishes, including Cornish crab for starters and roasted guinea fowl for main, or a 'splash out' four-course tasting menu option.
Andrew Edmunds, London
For a buzzy bistro, head to Soho favourite Andrew Edmund, an 18th century townhouse boasting a relaxed atmosphere and "famous but reasonably priced" wine. It does have a set Valentine's menu but it's not a stuffy one - think winter classics like beef and potatoes and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.
Clos Maggiore, London
This Covent Garden gem serves modern French cuisine in a beautiful conservatory filled with apple blossoms. With its plush velvet chairs and white tablecloths it is a little more formal than some restaurants but thanks to a huge open fire, atmospheric candles and ceiling of stars, it's far from stuffy.
Seven Dials, London
If your beloved appreciates a prime cut, ready your credit card and dig into some of the finest beef London has to offer in this bustling underground former brewery. The decor is earthy exposed brick and shiny wood with a subtle art deco twist, so not classically romantic - but maybe that's what you're looking for.
The Ivy Market Grill, London
The relaxed 'little sister' to the famous Ivy opened in November, so as well as being among the first people to visit it on Valentine's Day, you can be secure in the knowledge your date has never been here with anyone else. The decor is dark, moody and glamorous, while the dishes are classic - from lemon sole and sirloin steak to Shepherd's pie and hamburgers.
Randall & Aubin, London
Originally home to London's first French butcher's shop, this cosy fish restaurant is a wonderful spot for a hungry couple in love. It serves spaghetti marinara - for that Lady and the Tramp moment - as well as Casanova's favourite breakfast food, aphrodisiac oysters. Or you can go for the fish, chips and mushy peas.
Kendell's Bistro, Leeds
A winner of the Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year at the region's Oliver Awards, Kendell's is all about fresh authentic cuisine - so fresh there are no printed menus (but a bonus is that binoculars are provided to see the boards from your seat). The setting is classically French, with wax bottle candles, red velvet seats and ornate accessories, but don't go thinking it's in any way pretentious. As owner Steve Kendell writes on his website: "It's not a designer restaurant, I couldn't afford one - it’s a mix and match ... my rendition of a Parisian bistro."
The Stockbridge Restaurant, Edinburgh
A charming, family-run restaurant with twinkling fairy lights and stunning prints by local artists decorating the walls, The Stockbridge specialises in locally-sourced fish and game dishes. Its subterranean setting on a cobbled street makes it seem even cosier - especially in chilly February.
For a high-end curry in an ambient setting, head to Asha's. With eateries in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, it's a slick operation. The Valentine's menu also offers an enticing platter of puddings featuring chocolate fudge cake, gulab jamun and vanilla ice cream.
Bell's Diner, Bristol
Whatever you think of sharing dishes, Valentine's Day is probably the one night of the year when it's a must. Bell's Diner offers 'modern Mediterranean' sharing plates combining Spanish, North African, Italian and French cuisine in a welcoming, if slightly quirky, setting. The Valentine's Day menu looks pretty super, beginning with oyster and ending with a "whatever looks looks lovely on the day" cheese selection.
Words: Anna Pollitt